Career Comeback: Gary Sinise

Brandon Marcus
TV Movies
TV Movies

We like to celebrate all artists, from the most well-known star to that performer just under your radar. Then there are some actors and actresses who, for one reason or another, disappeared before they gave us all they’ve got. It’s time to highlight some of Hollywood’s finest who we want back bigger and better than ever. Here we look at the talents of Gary Sinise and why the world needs his unique talents lighting up the screen once again.

The Candidate

Gary Sinise

Best Known For

Forrest Gump, Ransom, Of Mice and Men, Apollo 13

Last Big Splash

CSI: New York, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders

Why We Need Gary Sinise

Gary Sinise Career Comeback

Gary Sinise is a true actor’s actor.

This is a man not interested in the glitz and glamor of being a star. He’s into the work. He’s all about digging deep into characters and bringing out the best performances from himself and those around him. It’s no surprise that Sinise got his start on stage, founding the famous Steppenwolf Theatre Company (you can tell they’re serious about it because they spell theatre the British way with an “re”) of Chicago. Steppenwolf is a big deal in the theater world, showcasing talent from actors such as Joan Allen, Gary Cole, and John Malkovich. Aside from his work there, Gary Sinise has performed in dozens of plays in New York and London. The man takes his work seriously. His work contains the heft you’d imagine from a man who lives and breathes his craft.

The Gary Sinise Persona

Aside from his skill, Sinise is also known for his personality. As I mentioned, he isn’t about the red carpets and talk show interviews. He’s more focused on his work, and that shows with his gruff, somewhat terse and unaffected persona. Like many of the characters he plays, Sinise is a man of few words, but he makes them count. While not an unpleasant guy, he’s not the most animated and jovial fellow. And while Gary Sinise has worked with Tom Hanks on several projects, the two are nothing alike.

Gary Sinise is very private, very squared away. Using that part of him, Sinise can turn in performances that range from menacing and scary to deeply emotional and authentic. He’s like a ticking time bomb with real heart, soul, and motivation. Maybe it’s just me, but he’s always reminded me of a distant uncle you don’t know well enough. You want to see more of him and win his approval, but he’s a tough nut to crack. Everything about him — from his piercing eyes to his sharp voice and tightly wound demeanor — draws your attention.

Gary Sinise Career Comeback

All of this was paying off handsomely in the 1990s when Sinise was popping up all over the place. He was the best part of the painfully pedestrian made-for-TV adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand. He also turned in nuanced work as director and star in Of Mice and Men, playing the tortured and principled George. America took notice of him with the one-two punch of Forrest Gump and Apollo 13, with the former earning him accolades upon accolades as well as an Academy Award nomination. Sinise was front-and-center and on his way to becoming a household name. With unparalleled acting chops and a working man’s reliability, he was a sure thing.

What Happened?

Sinise faded away without warning at the turn of the century. He began dedicating his time to television work instead of the big screen. With a man like Sinise, it’s hard to tell if this was by choice or not. Perhaps he grew tired of traveling all over the world and preferred to stay in the States with a steady job. Maybe casting directors couldn’t figure out how to use him anymore. It was possibly a mix of both. Who knows?

Whatever the reason, a man with the talent and unique look and feel of Gary Sinise shouldn’t be relegated to CBS purgatory. Since 2004, Sinise has spent his time on CSI: New York, doing various narration work for documentaries, and is now the lead of the poorly received Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. He’s not doing bad work — we all know Gary Sinise can’t — but he’s criminally underused. He was hot, hot, hot in the ’90s and then nearly disappeared entirely. It’s rare for someone with his talent to vanish like that.

Gary Sinise’s Career Comeback

Gary Sinise Career Comeback
Sinise being just as menacing as he looks in Ransom

Directed by Ron Howard — a man usually known for his light touch — Ransom is a tight little R-rated thriller about a millionaire (Mel Gibson) trying to save his kidnapped son. In a rare move, Sinise played an out-and-out nasty dude. He wasn’t redeemable, he wasn’t conflicted, he was just bad. Not surprisingly, Sinise nailed it. He brought that gruff, intense persona into a role that employed it brilliantly. The movie itself was quite strong, but Sinise was the standout star. It felt like he was about to tap into a whole new vein of his bottled up, fiery intensity. Then… nothing.

Imagine Sinise bringing that same ferocity to a series on HBO or perhaps something from Tarantino or David Fincher. His curt mannerisms could even be played for laughs. Can’t you see him cracking a few straight-faced laughs in a Coen Brothers film? The man could be used terrifically by any number of filmmakers.

Yet there he is, working away on crime dramas for CBS. He should be doing more. He deserves better. We deserve better. And we hope he makes a full career comeback soon.

Brandon Marcus
A pop culture lover from birth, Brandon has previously written for,, and He has complained extensively about inconsequential things on all those sites. Brandon resides in the Pacific Northwest but his heart belongs to Gotham City.
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